You know when you’re in DC when…

On fall break, or the lack thereof and my internship:

Fall Break is upon us. Well sort of. I still plan on heading into NBC come Monday. I figure it’s always good to show you care about the work you’re doing — even if it’s your break. The way I see it, my producer (Michelle Perry) and correspondent (Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent/Host of Andrea Mitchell Reports) don’t have fall break, and I’d rather help them out. It’s always exciting to be there!

Speaking of NBC — I haven’t been disclosing information about what goes on behind the scenes for some very good reasons. I signed a really long confidentiality agreement the first day I got there, agreeing that I wouldn’t blog or disclose any of the information I’m working on or have been observing. Everything is “off the record” in their speak. And it makes sense. NBC is competing with other network channels and much of the ongoing research is sensitive information. The agreement itself was around, I kid you not, oh, 20 pages or so — and that’s me being modest, it might have been more.

What I will tell you, very broadly of course, is that working at a network has its perks. Interning for MSNBC (the cable outlet of NBC), also known as “the place for politics,” offers a unique perspective on how news is created, firsthand. I also get the amazing opportunity to meet high profile figures who have made important contributions to our country. I try not to be too awestruck, but there are times when I think, “Wow, I read about this person in my government textbook.” Alright, I’ll be honest — it gets me every time. But I just keep my cool and stay professional.

On the culture shock of DC vs. Williamsburg:

In the realm of study abroad programs, I see W&M in DC as the the perfect solution to anyone who wants a breather from Colonial Williamsburg but who doesn’t want to make the huge commitment of going overseas for a semester. It’s a domestic study abroad, if you will. You can even visit campus from time to time, which is a lot more difficult to do when you’re in a foreign country. But here’s what no one ever told me — the culture shock still applies.

On the weekend of my sister’s birthday, I went down with a couple of other fellow program students and we all experienced something similar. We became anxious, claustrophobic, and tense. “Where’s the nearest Metro station?!” One of my friends joked. But in all seriousness, it took me a good three to five hours to adjust to the pace of life back in CW. As we drove 25 mph, down Jamestown Road, the three of us peered outside our windows to see how things had been faring without us. It was exciting to see the freshmen roaming about on campus. It was just as amusing to see so many familiar faces. While DC may not be a huge city, it is metropolitan and you can easily get lost in the sea of unfamiliar faces.

While we’re on the topic of DC, let’s quickly touch upon the Metro rail system, or the Metro. It’s the subway system in DC and runs on five colored lines: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue and Orange. It’s known for being one of the cleanest subway systems in the nation due to the strict no eating law, but it isn’t without its flaws.

First of all, the recent metro fare hikes (for maintenance issues) on top of the peak hour rates (times when people go to work) have been making my transit to work a whopping $7 per day. When you factor in class sessions and site visits, transportation costs easily becomes my biggest money eater. Secondly, there is a lot of maintenance on weekends which can add up to 30 minutes of your travel time. Many of the escalators are being worked on (this was actually the subject of a few local news stories this past summer).  And, the greatest irony of all: While reading the lighted advertisement about why rats aren’t a problem in DC’s underground transit system, I saw a tiny mouse squeaking it’s way to a crack. It might not have been a rat, but it most definitely was a rodent. And the only reason I didn’t squeal myself was because the mouse was so tiny — like the ones you see being fed to the snakes at pet stores. Now, the rats I’ve seen on DC’s streets are a whole different story. They are HUGE. Like squirrels almost. DC’s squirrels. Yep. But the thought of them is repulsive, so I’ll move on.

Family weekend:

I was a little sad that my last family weekend wasn’t back on campus. But only for a few minutes. The DC family weekend was pretty busy if you chose to participate in all of it. My mom signed us up for everything, so we ended up having a busy weekend. The DC family weekend included a joint class/parent session at the Newseum and an evening reception on Friday.  Brunch at Clyde’s and an afternoon Shakespeare play, “All’s Well That Ends Well” on Saturday.  Finally an alumni led tour guide of the National Art Gallery, followed by lunch in their cafe on Sunday. It wasn’t exactly a restful weekend, but it was nice to experience all of the events with your family. It gave them a taste of the city life — DC Lite.

Categories: Academics, Family Weekend, Student Blogs, Study Away, W&M in Washington

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